Anterior Cervical Disc Replacement in Roseville, CA

Anterior cervical disc replacement is a combined surgical procedure to decompress spinal nerves and stabilize the cervical spine. This surgery is performed to relieve pain, numbness and weakness in the neck, shoulder, and arms, and to provide stability in this portion of the spine. As the name indicates, this procedure is performed through an incision at the front, or anterior, of one side of the neck. With this surgical approach, the disc can be accessed without disturbing the spinal cord, the neck muscles and uninvolved spinal nerves. The operation is performed under general anesthesia.

The cervical spine begins at the base of the skull and consists of seven vertebrae with discs between them. One of the most important parts of the body, the neck is also the most articulate portion of the spine, moving more freely and in more directions than the other sections. Beyond that, the cervical spine is also responsible for protecting the spinal cord and providing support to the skull, which in turn protects the brain. Because of the neck's vital functions, injury or disease of the cervical spine is a very serious condition.

Reasons for an Anterior Cervical Disc Replacement

An anterior cervical disc replacement is considered when there has been severe damage to the cervical spine disc(s). This is referred to as discogenic disease. Often, this occurs as a result of osteoarthritis or a herniated disc. While the reasons for disc replacement are very similar to the reasons for discectomy and fusion, there are some important differences. Stricter criteria are used to indicate patients for disc replacement. The facet joints must be relatively healthy and should not exhibit hypermobility. Essentially, the disease process should involve only the disc.

The Anterior Cervical Disc Replacement Procedure

During the cervical discectomy, a disc that has been herniated or ruptured is surgically removed. The discectomy eliminates pressure on the compressed nerve(s), and thus relieves the pain and other symptoms such compression causes.

Following the removal of the disc, a disc replacement is placed between the vertebrae. This involves placing metal baseplates on the two vertebrae, and a piece of medical-grade plastic between the baseplates. This construct allows for movement of the disc replacement in multiple planes, thus maintaining motion at the surgical site.

While it takes several months for surgical site to fully heal, most patients feel better within a few weeks of the surgery. Often, patients experience neck pain as well as pain and swelling with swallowing during the immediate post-operative period. However, these symptoms are almost always transient.

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